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XI versions of Black Noise
Pantha du Prince XI versions of Black Noise
Released 15 April 2011
Producer Various
Label Rough Trade
Length 78:04
Genre Minimal Techno
Website www.panthaduprince.com
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Despite being around for over twenty years Minimal Techno has rarely proven to be a breeding ground for international superstars, at least not in the same way that House has managed to churn out the legends in the same time period. For every Hawtin or Villalobos that get recognition, thousands more producers go about their business virtually unnoticed. One artist who is steadily moving towards the big time is Pantha du Prince (aka Hendrik Weber), whose last two albums This Bliss and Black Noise earned considerable acclaim. Of course one of the many offshoots of this recognition is that all of a sudden everyone wants to remix your tracks, XI versions Of Black Noise is a collection of eleven such remixes from 2010’s Black Noise.

The first surprise is that of the eleven remixes included on this album, five tracks are versions of 'Stick To My Side' while a further three tracks are versions of 'Welt Am Draht'. Given that Black Noise was noted for being such a consistent record throughout it seems a pity that so much focus is put on these two tracks in particular. There was plenty of scope in the original album without having to resort to variations on a theme, all of a sudden the remixes aren’t just being compared to the original they are also being compared to each other.

'Stick To My Side' in its original form is a collaboration between Weber and Panda Bear of Animal Collective, utilizing Weber’s favoured chimes over a straight beat while Panda Bear’s vocals looped and multiplied over strings and a simple bass line. It was perhaps not the killer track people may have expected but it was strong none the less. First up to take it on is German based Lawrence, who rather bravely decides to ditch Panda Bears vocals, instead opting to create a six minute groove from the bass line and chimes that is competent but a little uninspired.

Four Tet is next up and the UK based producer gives 'Stick To My Side' a trippy feel with a prog synth line that propels the song along while the vocals hang dreamily in the background. For me it was the track that best married the original song to an original idea, allowing Four Tet to put his mark on it whilst retaining enough of Weber’s identity. Efdemin’s version slowly builds Panda Bear’s vocals up from background noise to clarity over a drum and chime percussion line before cutting away to nothing leaving the beat trailing off for the final minute. Carston Jost’s version is high on atmosphere with an ominous sound that buys into the original Black Noise ethos; the natural sound that foreshadows natural disaster, but feels out of place on the album. Walls have the final say on 'Stick To My Side', the song builds up slowly like wood chimes blowing in the wind before allowing the vocals to take centre stage. The lack of a definite beat makes it feel a bit too washed out and hard to pin down.

The three versions of 'Welt Am Draht' are also a mixed bag in terms of quality; Moritz Van Oswald’s version is the best of the three, sounding like an outtake from the original album with chiselled beats delicately positioned over breathing synths. The Animal Collective version is a commendable effort with lots of strange percussion, pipes and chanting to give it a tribal feel. Die Vögel’s version however, completely misses the mark for me; built up from staccato brass it becomes an annoyance and only for the sake of reviewing it did I listen all the way through to the end.

Of the remaining tracks The Sight Below’s version of 'Nomad’s Retreat' is a slow burner that starts with nothing but opens up with echoing synth lines that burst in a cacophony of sound. Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being channels Kraftwerk, giving 'Satellite Sniper' an industrial makeover that again feels a bit out of place on the album. Disappointingly Fata Morgana doesn’t make too many changes on his version of 'Lay In A Shimmer' and it becomes a case of spot the difference, the subtle changes could be taken as unimaginative or lazy.

XI versions Of Black Noise was never in danger of outdoing the original and the best you could hope for from an album of this kind would be a few interesting remixes which in fairness it does deliver. It’s an album aimed at the diehard fans who can’t get enough of Pantha du Prince but will probably only be seen as a stopgap, even by them.

- Brian Kinsella